I got to thinking this way after last weekend's LadiesCon at the Somerville Armory, brought to you by the Ladies of Comicazi. By mid-morning, fans of comics, pop culture and artistic/crafty ventures based on those themes were already filling the place with an infectious energy. I was on hand as special emissary from the Land of Tall, Bald, Middle-Aged Men -- no, actually I was helping my daughter set up her artist's table, arrayed with unique perler and jewelry creations. Next to her, another young woman named Gillian Daniels was selling her hand-drawn comics and zines. One caught my eye: Undertow -- Grief for a Changing World. Its drawings and captions dramatized Gillian's struggle to keep her head above water, so to speak, even as the spectre of climate change -- as well as other threats -- loomed menacingly.
Yet she wasn't at home, curled in a ball. She wasn't staring at her phone, binging on presidential outrages and the latest IPCC report on summer Arctic ice melt. She was here, spreading her message. Granted, it wasn't outreach to a skeptical crowd, but it was something. Something to build on.
Not good. Not what we want for our kids. So should parents downplay or even lie about climate change to their children? Delete the fear emoji from their phones and double up on the participation trophies and random high-fives?
But I do suspect that anxiety, effectively harnessed, can be tempered into a powerful tool. The generalized anxiety that typifies young people today -- anxiety over everything from grades to social media standing to school shootings to ecological doom -- can perhaps be weaponized against adult intransigence on climate change. Maybe the free-floating stress that is seen as a generational flaw will aggregate into a means to attack a problem zooming down the pike at us, from the imperiled future to the complacent present. Maybe Greta's glare at Donald Trump, captured on video at the UN this week, is more powerful than the corpulent status quo.
Just a thought. Here's hoping.